February 14, 2012
UW-Eau Claire student wins silver medal at Junior National Curling Championships
For 16 years, Julie Lilla took to the ice with a broom and a 42-pound polished stone and worked to become one of the best in the world at what she does.
It paid off for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student, when she recently competed in the Junior Women's Curling National Championships in Madison.
Lilla, a junior accounting major from Trempealeau, was a member of Minnesota 1, which won the silver medal at the championship tournament Feb. 4. Minnesota 1 lost in the finals to Minnesota 2 by a final score of 10-8.
"We had a good lead most of the game," Lilla said. "But we missed a crucial shot and allowed the other team back into the game."
While Lilla attends UW-Eau Claire, her teammates are scattered across the country. One teammate lives in northern Minnesota, one lives in Madison, and another resides in Buffalo, N.Y. Getting everyone together for a practice session wasn't easy.
"We couldn't get together too often, but we met at least once or twice a month as a team," Lilla said. "We also practiced individually at our own clubs." Lilla said she often split her practice time between the Eau Claire Curling Club and the Centerville Curling Club.
This was the fifth Junior Nationals in which Lilla has competed. She can add this year's silver medal to a bronze and silver medal from previous competitions.
Lilla said her interest in curling began at a young age. Her father curled in high school, and her whole family has curled ever since.
Lilla's competitive career at the junior level has come to an end. While she said she is not putting her curling career on ice, she does have other priorities on the horizon. "I am going to be focusing on finishing school and my future career," Lilla said.
The Minnesota 1 team was a part of "Project 2018" during the past year. The program is designed to build a pool of curlers who could team up for the Olympics six years from now in Pyeonchang, South Korea. Right now, Lilla is not committing to the ultimate curling competition, but she is not dismissing the idea, either.
"Currently, I am not planning on making a run for the Olympics," Lilla said. "But I wouldn't rule that out."
Source: UW-Eau Claire News Bureau